With the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians facing off in the World Series, there is a 100% chance that one of the longest playoff droughts in baseball will die at the end of the postseason. The Cubs famously haven’t won a World Series since 1908; the Indians haven’t experienced much playoff success in recent years either. (The latter team currently owns the second-longest drought, not having won since 1948.) So, after one of these records falls, which team is next? Here are the next five longest World Series droughts.
5. Washington Nationals – 47 years
Originally the Montreal Expos, the Washington Nationals’ franchise came into existence back in 1969 — and has yet to make an appearance in the World Series. In fact, the franchise as a whole has only made the postseason four times; once as the Expos in 1981, and then three times as the Nationals in the last five seasons.
The closest call was that ’81 Expos team, which went 60-48 in a strike-shortened season. Led by Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, and Tim Raines, Montreal played the Los Angeles Dodgers in what was then a best-of-five NLCS. After losing Game 1, the Expos took the next two games, giving themselves two chances to win another game and move on to the World Series. Unfortunately, they could not make it happen. In their other three playoff appearances, the Nationals didn’t even made it out of the NLDS, which means this franchise has only won a single playoff series in 47 years.
4. San Diego Padres – 47 years
Like the Nationals, the San Diego Padres began when the league expanded in 1969. While the franchise has experienced a touch run since then, the Padres have achieved some level of success. They’ve made the postseason just five times. However, they advanced to the World Series twice and played in October in back-to-back seasons (2005 and 2006) — even if they only won 82 and 88 games in those seasons, respectively.
In 1984, the Padres fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-five NLCS against the Cubs, only to storm back and win the final three games of the series and move on to the World Series. Led by a young Tony Gwynn, San Diego played the Detroit Tigers for the championship. They lost the first game but bounced back to tie the series at 1-1. Then, they lost three straight games to Detroit. San Diego returned to the World Series in 1998, but the New York Yankees crushed them in a four-game sweep.
3. Milwaukee Brewers – 47 years
A similar story applies to the Milwaukee Brewers. Although they’ve existed since 1969, they have yet to win a World Series in the history of their franchise. Originally an American League team that moved to the National League in 1998, the Brewers made the postseason a total of four times since ’69 — twice in the early 1980s and then again in 2008 and 2011.
After losing in the ALDS in 1981, the Brewers advanced to the World Series in 1982 to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee opened on the road, but things looked good after taking Game 1 by a 10-0 score and leading Game 2 in the middle innings, 4-2. Unfortunately, the Cardinals bounced back and won that game, and then eventually the series in Game 7. The closest the Brewers came since then was a trip to the NLCS in 2011, where the Cardinals thwarted them once again.
2. Houston Astros – 54 years
Originally the Houston Colt .45s, the Astros franchise came into being back in the 1962 season. They became the Astros just three years later and experienced their first above-.500 finish in 1972. Houston made its first playoff appearance in 1980. Ever since then, the team has experienced relative success in getting to the playoffs, especially when compared with the rest of this list. (Houston has been in the postseason 10 times since 1980.)
The best run the Astros ever had took place in 2005, when the local media essentially declared them dead in June; they made a stunning run to take the wild card and beat the Cardinals in the NLCS. Houston advanced to their first — and to date, only — World Series against the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, they did not make it any further. Chicago swept the Astros in four games, breaking a long World Series drought of their own.
1. Texas Rangers – 55 years
Originally the Washington Senators in their inception back in 1961, the Rangers moved to Texas prior to the 1972 season. As far as playoff success is concerned, the Rangers didn’t have much for the first few decades of their existence. Their first trip to the playoffs came in 1996, and through 1999 they made it three out of four seasons. Unfortunately, those three postseasons accounted for just one total playoff victory for Texas.
After another extended period of bad Rangers teams, Texas has seen the postseason in five of the last seven years. Their best year came in 2011, when they made it all the way to the World Series for the second year in a row; this time against the St. Louis Cardinals. Texas had a 3-2 series lead and had St. Louis down to their final strike twice before losing Game 6. The Cardinals won Game 7 as well, leaving the Rangers with the longest current World Series drought after the Cubs and the Indians.
On the bright side, no matter what happens from this point forward, the Rangers will definitely have one team with a longer drought than theirs.